The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 24

 

Millwall 3-1 Huddersfield Town

 

Third round {last 64}: Saturday January 8th 1927

The Den, Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, London

Attendance: 40,000

Scorers: George Brown 30, Wilf Phillips 38, Archie Gomm 46, Alf Black 70 

John Gilbert was heartbroken to return from three years in exile to find his lover, Greta Garbo had married his best friend, Lars Hanson in the film 'Flesh and the devil'. Gertrude Lawrence had a hit with 'Do, Do, Do', The first transatlantic New York to London phone call was made and the Cristero war broke out in Mexico after the government banned Catholicism.

At New Cross on the south side of the Thames, Millwall were yet again mounting another Third Division title bid, having finished in the top five in each of the three previous seasons. This still being the era when only the Third Division Champions earned promotion.

Promotion talk was deposited well and truly on the back burner in December 1926 when the draw for the third round of the cup gave the Lions the honour of hosting triple League Champions, Huddersfield Town at Cold Blow Lane.

Under Herbert Chapman Huddersfield had emerged from Second Division obscurity and near extinction at the end of the Great War to become the dominant team of the twenties and the most dominant side any club had ever built in the history of the game. They had become the first side to secure a treble of League titles and were pushing hard for an amazing fourth consecutive crown. The inspirational Chapman had moved on to try his luck at building another dynasty at Arsenal and the first chink in Huddersfield's supremacy had begun to show in their away from as they travelled to London with just one win in twelve road trips, albeit that nine of the other eleven games had been drawn. Despite this seeming inability to finish off opponents when on their travels Huddersfield still turned out a side containing six England Internationals and one of Scotland's 'Wembley wizards' among a side that held ten of their title winning side. Amid such a star studded line up two faces stood out as those that the home fans wanted to see most. The veteran club and country captain, Clem Stephenson and the aforementioned Wembley Wizard, Alex Jackson.

Despite their Third Division status, Millwall had international experience too in Jack Fort, Dick Hill and Len Graham who had all worn the three lions against what the English would have considered lesser continental opposition. These however were still the days when the England selectors opted for good amateurs and lower division players on many occasions and saved their very best line ups for the annual clash with the Scots and occasionally the Irish and Welsh. It would be top flight experience that would have impressed the visiting Huddersfield players and officials more and that was something the Millwall eleven greatly lacked with only centre forward, Dick Parker having made just six appearances in Sunderland's colours in the first season after the war.

Millwall's not so secret weapon though would be the atmosphere in the intimidating New Cross Stadium that had seen so few visitors leave with the spoils. Of the last eleven visitors only Bristol Rovers had lowered the home colours and Millwall had won each of the last five games in front of their fans. They had also beaten a decent Bury side at the Den in last year's F A cup but few expected a captain with the wealth of experience Stephenson had to allow his players to be complacent. The press were given the usual platitudes in the days leading to the ties, yes it would be tough, yes Millwall deserved respect, etc, etc but underneath all the paper talk the Huddersfield troop couldn't help but feel this as another formality on another tilt at the League and cup double.

Millwall were blessed with the traditional third round weather that for decades had, and would continue to make the cup the great leveller it was. The rain fell, the pitch looked like a glue pot and the wind chilled down from the stands, which were packed with the hard faced dock workers who normally acted as twelfth man. Huddersfield's players would later say that the crowd had little to do with their demise as Millwall played a style that revived memories of the cup fighting Barnsley side prior to the Great War.

The pre war Tykes asked no quarter from their opponents and gave none in return with the result that they became the most feared cup side of the age. Their hard tackling no nonsense approach, which was easily matched by their Second Division opponents had proved impossible for many top flight sides to cope with. The memories of that Barnsley side were still fresh and Millwall's players had decided that the only way to play the champions was to adopt similar tactics for to play football with such a cultured side could only result in defeat.

Yet for a half of an hour Millwall's defenders couldn't get near enough to their Huddersfield opponents to have any effect as the Champions made light of the conditions to threaten an easy passage to round four. In the first ten minutes Clem Stephenson fired wide, Billy Smith dallied when put in a great position and was stopped by Billy Bryant and then George Brown miskicked Alex Jackson's cross with everyone in the ground prepared for the net to ripple. Millwall were all over the place but Huddersfield's momentum was briefly stopped when centre half Tommy Watson went down under a challenge that left him hobbling for the remainder of the game but at first it didn't look like it would change the pattern of the game as it did, especially when Brown made amends for his dreadful miss by tapping in Billy Smith's perfect cross on the half hour.

The small band of travelling Huddersfield fans were the only ones making any noise at the breakthrough with everyone in the ground only too acutely aware that an advantage to the Champions would now surely lead to a comfortable result. The change in the pattern of the game was rapid and dramatic though as Archie Gomm burst through to fire an instant equaliser from Millwall's first meaningful attack only for the linesman's flag to stop the cheers in the home fan throats. The pressmen felt that the home side had been hard done by but Huddersfield's lead wasn't to last much longer in any case as the pace of the game was raised a notch by the offside call.

The respect Millwall's players had shown to their Huddersfield counterparts in the opening period faded away as the crunching tackles began flying in and it soon became apparent that Huddersfield's stars were in no mood to mix it as a blue shirt picked up every loose ball from every crunching clash.

The Lions had the ball in the net again in the thirty-sixth minute, although this time the call for a foul seemed justified but Huddersfield's luck couldn't hold and the deserved equaliser came just two minutes later. The visitor's back line were caught cold by George Chance's over hit cross which eluded everybody except the quick witted Alf Black who teed the ball back for Wilf Phillips to drive a low angled equaliser with Hugh Turner completely wrong footed.

 Millwall piled on the pressure in the final minutes of the first half and were greeted with a wall of noise and encouragement from their fans as they left the field all square with a genuine belief that the hoped for cupset could be on in the second period. Sure enough Millwall started by far the better side and had Huddersfield on the ropes from the off with the deserved lead coming right from the kick off. Millwall had found a lot of joy in the first half from the aerial ball and that was how they started and when this aerial assault on the Huddersfield goal came Wadsworth's way the England International completely mistimed his header, the ball instead going straight into the air and hanging invitingly for the tallest man on the field, Archie Gomm to go steaming in with a rocket header that gave Turner no chance.

The remainder of the second half saw the ball spending most of the time in the air and the Huddersfield players spending most of the time on the floor after another crunching challenge that they had come second best in. With the visitors in such disarray the remainder of the game could never live up to the first period and Millwall were happy to keep Huddersfield at bay and not risk too much themselves, which meant a relatively quiet time for both keepers as the game got bogged down in midfield. There looked little chance of there being another goal until another display of comic book defending gifted the home side a decisive third goal with twenty minutes left.

A rare low cross looked easy for either of the two Huddersfield full backs to deal with but both got in each other's way, swinging wildly at the ball. Both missed and were left to look back in horror as Alf Black was left the simplest of finishes to put the cap on a miserable day for the champions.

The remaining minutes passed with Millwall in no danger of being pegged back despite Joe Lansdale having to push a late Billy Cook effort onto a post.

At the final whistle it wasn't the defeat of the Champions that so shocked the media but the manner of that defeat and the timid way in which the champions had bowed out. For Millwall meanwhile came a trip to Derby where yet more giant killing feats were enjoyed before a nail biting fifth round tie with Second Division Middlesbrough at the Den in round five in which the Lions almost threw away a three goal lead. That put the Third Division outfit into the quarter finals and on the verge of being the first side from the third tier of the Football League to reach the last four. they made it into the hat but had to share the ball with their Second Division opponents, Southampton who had forced a goalless draw at the Den. The replay proved too much for the Lions, as did promotion as they missed out yet again on the Third Division south title.

Millwall: 1:Joe Lansdale, 2:Jack Fort, 3:Dick Hill, 4:Alf Amos, 5:Billy Bryant, 6:Len Graham, 7:George Chance, 8:Archie Gomm, 9:Dick Parker, 10:Wilf Phillips, 11:Alf Black

Huddersfield Town: 1:Hugh Turner, 2:Roy Goodall, 3:Sam Wadsworth, 4:David Steele, 5:Tommy Wilson, 6:Billy Watson, 7:Alex Jackson, 8:Billy Cook, 9:George Brown, 10:Clem Stephenson, 11:Billy Smith

Millwall

Huddersfield Town

1927